|Rating: 3 / 5
Reviewer: Andrew Mitchell
Eight And A Half’s self-titled album focuses on themes of confusion, self reflection and the type of grief that normally results from some sort of dissolution. Seems apropos considering that the newly formed band comprises Liam O’Neil and Dave Hamelin, two recent orphans of Montreal indie band The Stills and Justin Peroff, the offshoot drummer from Broken Social Scene. What results is a moody, synth heavy work unlike either of their former bands’ previous output. The theme of dissolution reverberates on many levels here.
Eight And A Half is sandwiched by an opening instrumental prologue and a closing denouement, conjuring up imagery like a film soundtrack. A complete listen quickly reveals that the band and album title are more than just a subtle nod to the Fellini film of the same name. Filled with ethereal sounds, the album endeavors to transport the listener audibly to some otherworldly dreamscape and succeeds in doing this by topping it off with a soft, barely there, high pitched vocal from Hamelin. This is best demonstrated on synth heavy ‘Scissors’ with it’s space-agey keyboard loops on top of pounding synth percussion, or ‘Walked Into Diazepene’, which in the span of 3 minutes manages to demonstrate every percussion sample in the book without ever feeling any sample is out of place. There are elements of folk, new wave and psychedelia mixed so impeccably well that nothing sounds experimental or too far over the edge. So when you sum it all up, naming their band and album after such a highly lauded cinematic masterpiece really doesn’t feel so far reaching.